chapter  20
17 Pages

Class formation in precolonial Nigeria: the case of Eastern and Western Nigeria and the Middle Belt

ByGloria Thomas-Emeagwali

This analysis focuses on the process of class formation in parts of Eastern and Western Nigeria, and the Middle Belt1 in particular (Bingel 1985, Agboola 1985, Obayemi n.d.). We concentrate on the 18th and 19th centuries although there is occasional reference to earlier periods. In the first section we examine the theoretical issues related to the process of class formation. We then proceed to evaluate the extent of surplus production in the area in question, as well as the varied manifestations of the division of labour, which, it is argued, have particular linkage with class formation in the Nigerian region. Central to the discussion are the particular modes of appropriation of the surplus product at the varied levels of sociopolitical organization. We conclude with an overview of the area of focus, with particular reference to the extent of differentiation that emerged amongst groups by the eve of the imposition of colonial rule.2